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1. Introduction

So many of us are so anxious talking about anxiety! We often feel that in sharing some of our deeper thoughts or feelings, we might risk losing the love, affection, or esteem of those we depend on. Or we fear that we might feel a depth of discomfort that we might not otherwise have the tools to handle.

Thus, like so many friends, family, colleagues, and fellow citizens, we tell ourselves to shut up and repackage those disturbing, seemingly forbidden thoughts and feelings back into some corner recess of our minds – hopefully forever. All too soon, these threatening thoughts and feelings return to the surface, and that uncomfortable anxiety rears its unwanted head again.

This course deals with getting into those fears with the aim of managing and understanding them better, a process that shame and fear of stigma only impede. If you can talk about your anxiety, you can feel better. I hope this course helps many of you to take that leap of faith across the canyons of mistrust, isolation, and fear that have been put in place over the years.

I know this story backward and forward because my patients tell me this story almost every day connected with coronary diseases. I know how much better you feel when you are able to share your seemingly shameful reactions and experiences with a gifted clinician; I also know how much relief people get from the symptoms with which they present, the ultimate take-home of good treatment.

I wish to thank every patient or friend who has ever felt safe enough to speak with me candidly about their experiences with anxiety and other emotional disorders. Without your trust, I would never have learned all that I have about the nature of anxiety and its inseparability from your lives and mental worlds.

I created the most frequently questions patients put to me and my colleagues. I have tried as much as possible to keep the answers simple, understandable, and in a brass-tacks tone.

Medications save lives routinely, and I am not the first cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon with PhD in neurosurgery to believe wholeheartedly in medication as a lifesaving and therapeutic tool in symptom reduction. I prescribe medication when it will provide genuine relief, and I am deeply indebted to the pharmaceutical industry for creating, researching, and producing many of the effective pharmacotherapy’s available today.

All pharmacological interventions discussed in this course stem from my own experience and the experience of my colleagues. We never receive any financial contributions from any pharmaceutical company nor owning any stock in pharmaceutical companies.

At the same time, I have healthy respect for that which a pill will not cure. Here lies the strength and backbone of psychotherapy. I know that if a patient will ever be able to live without medication, then talking with a doctor, sometimes intensively and over many years, provides a major route to relief from anxiety.

I believe, based on my experience working with my patients of coronary diseases and the more deep experience of my colleague’s Psychiatrists with patients in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis that the talking cure is at the heart of deep respect for the individual experience. Tailoring a treatment to the exact nature of what may go along with an individual’s symptoms involves a lot of talking, listening, and relating.

You can fill out the form and take it to your physician, who can make an appropriate psychiatric referral. It is essential that you not attempt to diagnose yourself or treat yourself without the help of a skilled professional, for reasons that will become clear.

Good treatment and choosing the right treatment for your personality style and your condition serve as the cornerstones of successful recovery.

The adage “diagnosis before treatment” from the practice of medicine guides this choice. Obtaining a correct diagnosis can cost both time and money, but it is worth every minute and euro, as the decisions made at this juncture can shape the course of the rest of your life. When you think about the money and time you spend looking into the feasibility and safety of buying your new home, it makes you realize that considering the repair of your internal home merits at least the same attention to detail.

Many patients have reported that in the long run, the cost of their treatment was the best financial investment of their lives, as good treatment allowed them to advance professionally. Hence, minute for minute and euro for euro, they became more efficient and calmer within their own skin, making actual cost of treatment less of a cost than an investment in good troubleshooting. When people feel better, they make better decisions, have fewer health problems, and better tolerate the health problems they already have, get along better with their families, fight less with their spouses or partners, abuse drugs less, and earn more money.

One good decision can lead to many future good ones, and finding a reliable mental health professional - like finding the right cardiovascular surgeon –is serious business (never I do self-promotion and tell my professional location for deontological and ethical reasons). The difference can literally be lifesaving.

I wish to thank all of the colleagues and friends continue to support me during this enterprise in humanitarian health care aid project also through internet. You know who you are and how much your love means to me. Sharing this experience as it happened in real time gave me a wonderful supply of confidence to take the next steps.

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